Spain PM sweats out regional elections

Oct. 21, 2012 at 1:18 PM

MADRID, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Regional elections in Spain this weekend will provide the first indications of how the public is reacting to the government's austerity policy, analysts said.

Votes being cast Sunday in Basque Country and northern Galicia were the first in Spain since the austerity regime was put in place 11 months ago by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Polls suggested Rajoy's Popular Party would lose ground in both regions even though he himself is from Galicia, the Financial Times said.

The anticipated results would be a contrast to his election last fall by the largest absolute majority in Spain's history. The Times said Rajoy's popularity has eroded this year amid tax hikes and spending cuts that have cut Spain's budget deficit from 9 percent of GDP to 6.3 percent.

"It will be difficult for Rajoy to find any good news in these elections," Antoni Gutierrez-Rubi, an expert in Spanish political communications, told newspaper. "If his party make any progress, it will be in spite of him."

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